Imagination highlights virtualisation in Microchip’s 32-bit PICs

September 17, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Following Microchip’s announcement of its PIC32MZ microcontrollers, Imagination Technologies, supplier of the MIPS core around which the PICs are built, is emphasising that the MIPS M-class CPUs concerned are the only microcontroller-class CPUs to feature full hardware virtualisation.

The Microchip PIC32MZ integrates the MIPS M5150 CPU, Imagination’s latest Warrior M-class processor. Virtualisation enables users to run multiple operating systems or applications on a single physical machine; MIPS M-class CPUs bring this feature from the desktop and server world into a microprocessor that is 25x-50x smaller than conventional mobile chips. A MIPS M5150 CPU, Imagination adds, can run up to seven guest operating systems in parallel, with minimum overhead on overall system performance and stability.

The company believes this will contribute to innovative applications for wearables, IoT and other embedded markets. For example, a MIPS M-class CPU inside a smart home hub can place door and window locks in separate virtualised containers to avoid compromised security throughout the home. In addition, a separate container can handle lighting control or the connectivity stack; any change in the operation of a container would not affect the others.

Imagination has a video that depicts a use-case for this technology; running on a MIPS-based development board, when the Linux-based operating system running in one virtualised container restarts, the second container controlling the motor operation continues running unaffected:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjQZTBK1trY

More in a blog posting on Imagination’s site, here.